More than 9,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Wisconsin. On this 22nd anniversary of World AIDS Day, health officials around the state and nation are calling for renewed efforts to combat the HIV epidemic.
Since 1983, more than 11,000 people in Wisconsin have been reported to be infected with HIV and nearly 4,000 have died. “In fact in the United States there is a new HIV infection occurring every nine-and-a-half minutes.” Dr. Jim Vergeront is Director of the Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Program.
The state Health Department says anyone can become infected with HIV, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic circumstance. However, gay and bisexual men of all races account for the majority of HIV cases. The reported HIV infection rate in 2009 was nine times greater for African American males and five times greater for Hispanic males than for Whites.
Vergeront says an HIV infection is treatable. “It’s not curable at this time but certainly there are good treatments.”
Health officials suggest preventing HIV by practicing safe-sex; discussing HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues; and getting tested for HIV. An estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV and one out of five people with HIV do not yet know they are infected. Vergeront says there have been a number of successes over the past 25 years, including identifying the virus, developing drugs, and promoting prevention.
Throughout the state Wednesday there are many World AIDS Day events that people can participate in. Worldwide, more than 33 million people are living with HIV and more than 7,300 individuals are infected daily.
For questions about HIV or HIV testing, talk with your health care provider, local health department, or call 1-800-334-2437 to locate HIV testing resources in Wisconsin. Learn more about World AIDS Day and HIV infection in Wisconsin.